Race Time: 2.05pm Meeting: Salisbury
Distance: 1m 6f 21 yards
Full Race Name: Betfred “City Bowl” Handicap (Class 3)
At the early stage this contest was half filled with jumpers looking to earn a bit of extra cash on the flat, but they have all cleared off thanks to the quicker ground so its flat only this time around. First up, the genius that is Sir Mark Prescott looks likely to be represented by William Of Orange (11/4) here with Luke Morris booked to ride as things stand, and he is just the sort his handler does exceptionally with over staying trips. Three runs over inadequate distances were followed by a second place in a mile and a half maiden, after which he tried this mile and three quarter trip at Haydock in a handicap where he hacked up at odds of 8/1. After following up over the same course and distance he was put away for the winter but is expected to return to action here, though we do wonder if his trainer has already shown his hand with the Duke Of Marmalade gelding with a handicap mark of 90 possibly enough to stop him for now.
Mick Channon, footballer turned trainer, has an interesting contender in Needless Shouting (14/1), twice a winner over this exact distance on the flat, and most recently a winner over hurdles at Plumpton. His fitness is clearly not an issue which is always something to at least consider with no substitute for a recent race, while his stamina is also a go with two distance wins under his belt, though where that comes from as a son of Footstepsinthesand is beyond us we are sorry to add! Tindaro (16/1) may not be a jumper but he is trained by Paul Webber who is better known in that sphere, He has been chasing at the likes of Ludlow and Stratford, but was last seen winning on the flat – at San Sebastian in Spain of all places! He saint too shabby to be fair, as witnessed here when he finished runner up to Gabrial The Hero, but put up eleven pounds since then may be a step too far, and has left him with far too much weight to carry in our view.
Andrew Balding is a trainer we have a lot of time for and he sends Spectator (9/2) here with the very capable Kieran Shoemark taking a useful five pounds off his back. There used to be a thought that the stable’s horses always needed their first runs of the season but that hasn’t always been the case lately, and if the market speaks in his favour regarding his fitness, I would not put any of you off having a second look. He has won races on good to firm going and soft so no preferences there then, and showed renewed determination in a first time visor at Doncaster last September (wears one again today), though a word of warning – you can never be certain they will have the same rejuvenating effect more than the once! To round things off, Clive Cox is a trainer more than capable of getting them ready for these events when he has the right quality of horse, and in Le Maitre Chat (5/1) that is a possibility. Only out of the first three home on one occasion from six races, his consistency hasn’t impressed the handicapper who has him on a mark of 90, which we see as at least a few pounds higher than his form to date deserves.